Rockets 118, Hornets 113 - Recovery

By Forrest Walker on February 27, 2019

The Houston Rockets are recovering. Tonight, James Harden continued to recover from his neck strain as the team recovered from a desultory second quarter. Things have alternated between quite good and very bad for the Houston Rockets, and right now they sit at the high-water mark for games above .500, a good-not-great eleven. The team is finally getting healthy, Chris Paul is finally looking like himself, and the team is finally able to get back a lead they surrendered. The Rockets don't look like world beaters, but they finally look ready to fight back when the world is doing the beating.

This wasn't a pretty win. In fact, this may have been one of the ugliest victories of the season for the Rockets. The team was outrebounded by 11, lost a 15-point lead in under four minutes,  let Kemba Walker (who it must be said does his family name proud) score a game-high 35 points and they got a pretty sorry version of James Harden. Nonetheless, instead of stumbling and falling back below ten games above .500, the Rockets managed to finally clear that hurdle for the first time all season.

Harden's neck seems to continue to bother him, as he barely scraped back to the 30-point mark he so famously met for dozens of game in a row. It took him an uncharacteristic 29 shots to do it, in large part because he managed to miss all but one of his 11 three-point attempts. If he'd been even close to his career average shooting stroke, it would have been an easy win for the Rockets. As it was, it took  a clutch rebound from Harden to seal the win.

The lion's share of Houston's rebounds, however, came from Clint Capela, who seems to be back with a vengeance at this point. He grabbed a career-high 17 boards to go with 23 points on over 62% shooting. That's an excellent outing any night of the week, and with Terrence Jones somehow suiting up for the Rockets once again, they'll need every bit of production he can offer.

Chris Paul, meanwhile, did Chris Paul things, a phenomenon we've been agonizingly short on this season. He ended the night with 17 points and 10 assists, and those points came on 54% shooting. He's looked relatively spry lately and, more importantly, able to run a quality NBA offense. If he continues on this trajectory, the Rockets have a shot at going on a win streak at a time when they badly need to do so.

The whole team, in fact, is on a positive trend line. With Iman Shumpert back in the lineup and the big three(ish), stability and recovery might have a chance to set in. We have little idea what this Rockets team looks like when fully healthy, which is the primary rallying point at this juncture in the season. They have yet to see the final haul of buyout candidates and the Danuel House situation will resolve at some point. There's an actual NBA team here at last, and while it's still not smooth sailing, the chop is at least decreasing.

The Rockets have a chance to catch their break and finally recover from the various holes they've fallen and dug into. At long last, it's time to just do the damn thing.

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